NEW SOUTH WALES, Australia — It all started with a fast-moving wildfire — and a woman's fearless act of kindness. Toni Doherty risked her life to save a koala from the flames tearing across New South Wales, Australia.
"He had had flames up on his back legs, so I just covered him with my t-shirt, managed to get him off the tree and it was so hot and just run to, where it was more open," said Doherty.
She doused the koala with water, gave him something to drink — then wrapped him up and rushed him to a koala rescue hospital.
"So he's got really badly burnt hands and feet, he's got burns under his arms, his nose is burnt," said the hospital's clinic director Cheyne Flanagan.
She says 'Lewis' is one of the lucky ones.
As many as 350 koalas may have died at a burning nature reserve. Just 14 were brought in for treatment.
"I knew if we didn't get him down from the tree then he would have been up there amongst the flames," said Doherty.
24 hours after the ordeal, Doherty came back for a visit, reuniting with the adorable animal she helped save. Veterinarians say they won't be able to release Lewis back into the wild, so he may join a breeding program to help bolster the region's koala population.
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